Clues to Help You Chose Between Product Review Websites – A Lesson in Internet Shopping

For this example, let’s assume that you wish to learn to play the piano, and are searching the Internet for information. You will find many choices and many review sites which discuss even more choices. Your analysis process should include all of the points(clues) discussed here. This article is more about the selection process than the product or vendor.

In case you didn’t realize it, the typical Internet Product Review site will likely steer you to the product which nets them the highest commission. Shocked? Don’t be – this is absolutely normal marketing in every aspect of life. It’s all about maximizing their profit. However, and fortunately, not everyone does this. There are some obvious and some subtle clues which will help you decide who to trust, especially shopping on the Internet. Don’t be fearful – be informed. Read on.

Been shopping in town lately? Dealt with any commissioned sales folks lately? How about those, oh so helpful folks who keep asking if you found everything, and or, do you want to super size your order? Trying to maximize the store’s profit really is normal and widely practiced. Nothing to be concerned about yet.

Speaking of commissions – In all Internet purchases, the seller, also known as the vendor, pays the salesperson (known as an affiliate or associate) a small commission. The lowest is about four (4.0) percent. The price to the buyer doesn’t change – it costs the same where ever you go. (The price can vary a tiny bit in the physical product areas, for example – keyboards and pianos. This is due to volume wholesale purchasing and distribution costs. The sales commission doesn’t factor in this.)

The commission usually automatically goes to the last affiliate site you visited before you clicked through to the product detail / sales page and made a purchase. This is tracked automatically by the computers with little chunks of data called “temporary cookies.” The vendors who transmit the cookies to your computer explain it all on their privacy or terms and conditions web pages. It is nothing to be concerned about. It’s very normal and business like. Most people have never actually read these pages.

So, the Big Question – what distinguishes a trustworthy product review site of any flavor? Listed here are critical clues. Some are more obvious than others – all are worthy of your consideration.

  • First and foremost is your gut level comfort level as you look over a site.
  • Can you identify a human with an address and contact information?
  • Does the reviewer discuss any negative aspects of the product? Few products are so wonderful that nothing negative can be found and pointed out to you, the shopper and possible customer.
  • Does the review include information and opinions not found on the vendor’s site? (All reviews where the reviewer is an affiliate for the vendor will have links for you to click on, taking you directly to the vendor’s site. Perfectly normal and to be expected.) In case you never thought about it, consider this: Vendor’s love affiliates – they are outside non-employees with no benefits, etc. who get a tiny reward (called a commission) only after a sale occurs. If no new information is on the review site, could well be that an actual review did not take place. Major clue.
  • Study the information provided, validate the customer testimonials if possible, and make your own decision. Use your normal decision making process. For example, I personally read the testimonials very carefully when researching products. Do they sound authentic – not made up. Can they be verified? Will the seller provide you contact details if asked? This is rare, but sometimes occurs.
  • Frequently digital download products are sold with 100 percent money back guarantees. The full details are always part of the information / sales letter. They are commonly placed right at the bottom end, right after the price information. Guarantees are always a very important part of the purchasing decision. Another clue to trustworthiness. Doesn’t matter on review sites – but it does matter on the vendor’s site.
  • A good reviewer owns many, but not necessarily all of the products he reviews. When you are are deciding, remember to keep in mind what your situation is (your own wants, needs, desires, etc.) It’s about building trust and confidence. Do you feel pressured? Another major clue.

So, after lots of searching and looking at several – many websites and competing products, let’s assume you have made a product selection decision and are ready to buy. Please consider giving a vote of confidence to the affiliate review site that actually provided you with useful information. Please go back to that review site just before making the actual purchase. That is what triggers that ‘cookie’ thingy I mentioned earlier. And that results in that small commission we talked about. And that is what motivates affiliates to produce meaningful review sites.

I trust that I have enlightened you a bit. Shopping on the Internet is quite safe, especially if you pay attention to the clues. As always, the final choice is yours. Now you know more about how to sort through all the choices and chose the best product for you.

When you find the right one for you, you can purchase it right away. (Remember that often the best product does in fact, cost more. Also normal.) No waiting – parking – standing in line – all the joys of Internet shopping. Fear not – Enjoy.

5 Simple Ways to Green Your Holidays This Year and Beyond

The Holidays often mean different things to different people, but whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, each tradition involves similar rituals –decorating, entertaining, and gift-giving. And for many of us, travel is also part of the equation. If greening your holiday tradition is important to you, here are some tips for making minor adjustments that can go a long way to reducing your footprint both this holiday season and for many seasons to come.

1. To Tree or Not to Tree?

Since the first trees were literally cut down and displayed in family homes nearly two centuries ago, the Christmas tree has played a huge role in our cultural identification with and celebration of Christmas. By the 1960s, our desire for convenience (and perhaps a little kitsch) gave rise to the artificial tree industry. And while many people still opt for the natural choice, the first major question that springs to mind for those looking to be more eco-friendly, is whether or not to purchase a tree at all.

Natural trees are always preferable to synthetic ones –most of which are made from petroleum by-products and can pose health hazards in the event of a fire due to toxins that are released into the air from burning. If cutting down a tree just so you can enjoy it for a few weeks seems unnecessarily wasteful, consider a live potted tree. You can place it anywhere in your home and after the season is over replant it in your yard or donate it to an organization that will plant it somewhere for you. This option eliminates the hassle of disposing of a natural tree especially if you live somewhere where there are no tree recycling programs or you don’t have access to a wood chipper. If you opt to go with a real tree, consult the National Christmas Tree Association’s web site for a list of organizations that can help you recycle or replant your tree.

Of course, the greenest way to go is to skip the tree altogether. If you’re longing for the smell and ambience that comes with a real tree, you can re-create it by diffusing essential oils like Fir Balsam or Fir Douglas, Spruce Hemlock, and/or Scotch Pine. Mix in essential oils of Orange, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Nutmeg and Cedarwood to experience the full spectrum of holiday scents.

2. Deck the Halls with Natural Options

For many, the tree is merely a mechanism for displaying ornaments, and the joy of the season comes mostly from creating or acquiring, and hanging seasonal decorations. The greenest option here is ornaments made from all natural materials like dried fruits and popcorn, pinecones, and recycled material like metal, paper, and fabrics –including ribbons that can be used to make decorative bows.

Of course nothing adds more ambience to your holiday décor than lighting –whether it’s wrapped around a tree or strung along your windows. Now there is a wide selection of indoor and outdoor LED (Light Emitting Diodes) Christmas lights that can rival any of the traditional versions you’ve used over the years and have far superior energy efficiency. They have a lifespan of up to twenty years, use almost no energy when you plug them in, and they remain cool to the touch –minimizing any potential fire hazard. For outdoor lighting, consider solar powered light strings –especially if you live in a location that gets a reasonable amount of sunlight during winter months.

3. Cool Gifts in Natural Garb

Holiday gift giving is probably the area that offers the greatest opportunity for deepening sustainability. From fair trade items like jewelry, crafts, clothing, and even food to organic baby toys and furniture, to making donations to local non-profits and charities on behalf of others, to volunteering or giving gifts of time or in-kind services. Re-gifting is a perfectly acceptable way to minimize waste following the principle of the 3 Rs (Re-use, Reduce and Recycle) –provided the items you’re re-gifting bring some value to the people you plan to give them to.

Culinary and handmade gifts are an excellent choice. It’s hard not to love a box of handmade cookies, a beautiful holiday cake, or even a carefully prepared meal made in your kitchen with love. If you’re too busy to cook, you can do a variation on this theme by making gift baskets with all the ingredients necessary to prepare a batch of your famous chocolate chip cookies or a delicious pasta dinner. To keep it as green as possible, be sure to use organic, fair trade, or locally produced ingredients.

Try to keep the amount of gift-wrap you use to a minimum and forgo typical wrapping paper in favor of recycled or recyclable Kraft or white butcher paper. You can embellish your plain paper wrapping with reusable fabric ribbons like grosgrain, satin or organdy. Or opt for all natural materials like Raffia and Sinamay. You can also try read-made velvet cloth bags or organza pouches.

4. Entertaining with a Conscious Touch

Whether it’s dinner parties, buffets or cocktail receptions, you can certainly make your entertaining more sustainable both at home and at work. Starting with the invitations themselves. Instead of paper invitations, why not use an electronic invitation service like Evite to notify everyone? If you prefer paper invitations, use 100% recycled, bleach-free or FSC-certified paper. If you want to be really innovative try products from Ellie Pooh –paper products made from Elephant dung! If you’re hosting a big affair that involves printing invitations use a local green printer who can print on recycled stock using soy-based inks.

As for decorations, keep it simple. Use soy candles with lead-free wicks to create an ambience or use LED lights to be energy-efficient. Consider making decorative centerpieces with objects found in your backyard like pine boughs, sticks, and beautiful leaves; fresh or dried herb bundles; or bowls of potpourri made from natural ingredients like dried rose petals, citrus peel, cloves or other fruits and spices. Arrange them in a decorative container made of a sustainable wood or bamboo. Or purchase organic flowers from a local florist.

When planning your menu, remember to stick with locally grown produce, organic ingredients, free-range and hormone-free meats and poultry, and sustainably caught seafood –whether you’re doing the cooking or hiring someone else to do it. Use the good china and glasses instead of disposable plates, cups, and plastic cutlery. Not only is this more sustainable, it really enhances the ambience. If you must use a less expensive option, then opt for reusable dinner plates and real silverware or fully compostable dinnerware. Finally, set up clearly marked recycling bins or boxes for bottles and cans, and separate ones for plastics, paper, and compostable items. It may seem like a lot of extra work, but it’s well worth it and will make cleaning up a breeze.

5. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Travel, Shopping & Holiday Cards

Minimizing your carbon footprint is one of the best things you can do during the holiday season –especially with all the travel and time you typically spend in cars, trains or planes.
If you must travel this year, use public transportation whenever possible. Taking the train or bus instead of a flight is preferable, but if you must fly to your destination, try to book a direct flight as taking off and landing requires serious amounts of fuel.

Shopping online is another great way to reduce the time, energy, and fuel wasted driving to the mall, getting stuck in traffic jams, and endlessly circling around looking for parking. Shipping carriers like UPS now offer merchants the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets for their shipments. Ask online retailers if they use this option. Or take advantage of online retailers who offer electronic gift cards or certificates.

And finally, skip mailing out holiday cards especially if your list is long. Consider using online card services like Paperless Post or for more whimsical offerings try Jacquie Lawson Animated E-cards.

Copyright 2018 Dropwise Essentials

Shopping and Eating in Downtown Cardiff

The capital city of Cardiff is a tremendously exciting city, and certainly the largest settlement in the nation of Wales, United Kingdom. Despite beginning its wonderful growth as an industrial town, the city has really blossomed over the past few decades to become one of the United Kingdom’s most forward thinking cities.

The best time to visit the city centre of Cardiff is between spring and autumn, as this is when the weather conditions are most favourable for sightseeing and tourist activities. Getting into Cardiff can be done by road, rail or air, when coming from London. However, the Cardiff International Airport also boasts flights from Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid and other United Kingdom metropolitan centres.

Although the city is home to many wonderful attractions and activities, its shopping and eating cultures are also finding themselves constantly busy. For more information regarding these features of the city, read on below.

Shopping

The city of Cardiff is unbelievable for shopping. Over the past decade, the Welsh capital’s shopping culture has begun to blossom, and now stands as one of the best spots for a shopping holiday in the United Kingdom.

The most alluring places in the centre of the city to go shopping are found within the Castle Quarter, just a short distance from the stunning Cardiff Castle. Within this quarter, tourists will be able to find Queen Street, the Hayes, and the appealing St. Mary’s Street. These are the most popular pedestrian street malls in Wales. In addition to the street malls, there are a collection of Victorian Arcades that are not only beautiful, but also filled with amazingly popular shopping stores.

Central Market is the best place to visit for bargains! Of course, there are other markers found around the city, but the Central Market is the most important market district in the city. Pets are available in the market, along with a plethora of other products, including jewelry, arts, and handicrafts.

St David’s Shopping Centre is a new shopping complex found in the city centre of Cardiff. Upon completion in 2010, it stands as one of the largest shopping malls in the UK, and was even voted to be one of the best shopping malls internationally just a year ago.

Eating

Cardiff, in particular the city centre, is a great place to enjoy a dining experience like no other in the United Kingdom. It is filled with an amazing array of restaurants that boast spectacular dishes and international flavours from all over the world. The inner-city streets of Cardiff are definitely the busiest parts of the city when it comes to dining. This is why visitors must make reservations prior to dining in the city centre, especially on the weekend.

Indian food is extremely renowned in Cardiff, along with Italian, French, Indonesian, Thai, and East Asian cuisine. Tourists won’t have to go far to find a remarkable restaurant, as there are dozens located throughout most of the downtown area.

The Cardiff City Centre hotels are quite desirable when it comes to dining. There are some of the best hotel chains serving the city of Cardiff, and these hotels provide some magnificent establishments for dining. The hotels are not recommended for budget travelers, as the restaurants tend to be on the more expensive side of things.

Cafes are also great places for dining too. The downtown streets offer a variety of café options, which make it possible for tourists to just sit back and rejuvenate with a coffee or meal. Lunch is a very popular time for the cafes, but because there are a large number in the city centre, tourists can always find a café to enjoy.